Archdeacon: Senior shines brightly for Wright State Raiders


Pressure makes diamonds.

That’s the scientific explanation of how crystals of pure carbon turn into diamonds under high temperatures and intense pressure.

It’s also a well-known quote General George S. Patton uttered to his troops.

And it is an explanation of the almost gem of a game Mark Hughes had Tuesday night against Cedarville at the Nutter Center.

When he was a Wright State freshman, the 6-foot-4 guard said then head coach Billy Donlon – or “Coach D,” as he calls him – was “really hard on me about my defense.”

It was the same mantra he said he had heard back in Youngstown from his high school coach, Ursuline’s Keith Gunther, who told him “If you want to play college basketball, your defense will be how you get on the floor.”

As a sophomore, Hughes said Scott Nagy, the Raiders’ new head coach, pressed him constantly about being more offensive minded and quit deferring to everyone else.

And after the season he said Nagy sat him down as asked him if he really wanted to be there.

The question shook Hughes’ mother, Tracie, a former Penn State volleyball player who knows about the business of D-I sports. She initially feared her son was being nudged out of the program.

Nagy said that was not the case and Hughes, who sometimes marches to his own beat, took the challenge as it was meant to be.

»RELATED: Hughes embraces bigger role

He pushed himself and last season – named to the Horizon League’s All-Defensive team — he was one of the key players who led Wright State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years.

This year – his senior season – Hughes said Nagy and his staff, especially assistant coach Sharif Chambliss, again are exhorting him to exert himself on offense, while not slacking off on defense:

“Every night I hear Reef saying, ‘Be aggressive!….Be aggressive!…Be aggressive!’ He’s really helped me with that. It’s easy to be comfortable and settle on offense because we have so many good scorers on this team, but he says they need me to a leader on both ends of the court.”

Against Cedarville, Hughes channeled all those coaches who have pushed and prodded and pressured him over the years and turned in a mostly sparkling performance as WSU pushed aside the Division II Yellow Jackets, 58-39.

On a night Nagy described as “our worst offensive output all year,” the Raiders two top scorers – Loudon Love and Bill Wampler – struggled mightily with their shots.

Wampler made just 4 of 16 shots and went 1 for 8 from three-point range.

The 6-foot-9 Love often wasn’t able to capitalize on his size and strength advantage inside and missed easy shots he usually hits. Although he did finish with 11 points and 11 rebounds, he went 4 for 11 on shots near the basket.

Off the bench freshman guard Skyelar Potter misfired even more, going 0 for 9 from the floor and 0 for 5 from three-point range.

As a team, Wright State shot 31.8 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from three-point range.

The pair who saved the day where Hughes and point guard Cole Gentry. Between them they went 9 for 17 from three-point range.

Gentry finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal. Hughes had 14 points (4 for 8 from three-point range), eight rebounds, three steals and an assist. His only flaw was four turnovers.

“We saw how Big Lou wasn’t finishing and Bill Wampler wasn’t making shots, so somebody had to put it up,” Hughes said. “So me and Cole did a good job of that.”

On defense, Gentry limited Cedarville guard Colton Linkous, a 10 points-per-game scorer, to just three shots, all of which he missed.

Hughes, as is usually the case, drew the toughest defensive assignment in Yellow Jackets point guard Branden Maughmer, who came into the game shooting 55.4 percent from the floor, 62.5 percent from three point range and led the team in scoring at 15.2 ppg.

In five previous outings, Maughmer had a total of just five turnovers.

“He’s a really good mid-range shooter and Coach wanted me to take him out of his game,” Hughes said. ”I think I did that. My length definitely bothered him. I could tell he was frustrated.”

Maughmer made just 2 of 8 shots and finished with six points. He equaled his season total with five turnovers against the Raiders.

“Their point guard is a really good player and was shooting a high percentage,” Nagy said. “It’s a luxury having a guy like Mark to put on a very good player like that.”

Chambliss praised Hughes afterward:

“It’s been great to watch him develop over the years. When he was a freshman, I was at Milwaukee and watched him from that side. When I came here I got a chance to coach him. He’s ultra-skilled, a lot more athletic than people think and he’s probably the best on-ball defender in the league.

“Tonight he was just so efficient. He made the open jump shots and he held up his end on defense. He’s got to continue to do that.

“He’s a senior. It’s his last go-around and he’s got go be our leader. He’s too good of a young man to take a back seat on anything right now. I challenge him all the time to be better at everything, not just on the court, but off it, too.”

And in a small way Hughes showed that when he and Gentry were brought to the press conference dais after the game.

Just before the close of the session Gentry was asked what Hughes brought to the team.

With a pause to gather his thoughts, Gentry said: “Everything… As a teammate, what I appreciate is you know exactly what he’s going to give you. He’s not up and down. He’s consistent every game. He guards. He scores. All his stats are good stats.

“I know as a teammate he’s gonna play hard with you and be a good teammate, too. And I think that’s what everyone in the locker room appreciates about him.”

Next to him, Hughes sat in silence, but seemed visibly moved by the assessment.

And as everyone else readied to leave, he leaned over to Gentry and whispered:

“I appreciate that.”

Sometimes praise, as much as pressure, will bring out a guy’s shining qualities.



Reader Comments


Next Up in Sports

Ohio State football season review: Offense lived up to the hype... and then some
Ohio State football season review: Offense lived up to the hype... and then some

What was expected In short: More and bigger fireworks.  Despite losing J.T. Barrett, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in total offense (12,697 yards) and touchdowns passes (104), the Ohio State offense entered the year with high expectations.  While Dwayne Haskins had only thrown 24 passes prior to the season-opener against Oregon State...
Former Red Billy Hamilton signs with American League team
Former Red Billy Hamilton signs with American League team

The Kansas City Royals and speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton have agreed to a $5.25 million contract for next season that includes up to $1 million in incentives, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The Royals hope that spacious Kauffman Stadium will allow Hamilton to better use his speed than the bandbox of Great American...
Franklin native Kennard nets NBA career high
Franklin native Kennard nets NBA career high

Franklin native Luke Kennard scored a career-high 28 points Monday in the Pistons’ 116-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Kennard, a 6-foot-5 guard, hit 11 of 18 shots from the field, including 5 of 8 3-pointers, grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists. Kennard recently missed 16 games due to a shoulder injury and is still working his way...
Random Thoughts: Ohio State’s coaching change, Bengals bumbles, unnecessary soccer stadiums, etc.
Random Thoughts: Ohio State’s coaching change, Bengals bumbles, unnecessary soccer stadiums, etc.

In hindsight, Urban Meyer ended up being exactly what he was expected to be when he was hired: A cross between Jim Tressel (micromanaging Ohioan) and John Cooper (free-wheeling national recruiter). Meyer also mixed in some grandpa and undertaker tendencies to keep things interesting.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that both...
Anthony Grant Show highlights: Dayton coach looks back at Detroit Mercy, Auburn games
Anthony Grant Show highlights: Dayton coach looks back at Detroit Mercy, Auburn games

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant reflected on a 98-59 victory against Detroit Mercy and an 82-72 loss at No. 8 Auburn last week during his weekly show Monday on WHIO Radio with Larry Hansgen. Here are some highlights: On Detroit game: “We were really concerned. They were coming off a loss at Akron before our game and had the nation&rsquo...
More Stories